Accent filter: help me identify an accent.
November 9, 2012 1:56 PM   Subscribe

Accent filter: where is the accent in this video from?

I really enjoyed this great little video on hexaflexagons by vihart on youtube. It is a fascinating subject, of which I was unaware, presented in an engaging manner.

However, I am very curious about her lovely accent. It seems to my British ears that this is the same accent as Felicia Day (whose accent I also really like).

Just a quickie really, hoping some fellow MeFites from across the pond can enlighten me.
posted by inbetweener to Writing & Language (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
She sounds fairly standard American to me, maybe with a bit of Midwest. I know what you mean about her and about Felicia Day, and honestly to me it sounds more like just a way of speaking, not an accent - a way to (intentionally or otherwise) sound cute, if that makes sense? As in, I don't think you'd meet an equivalent guy with that "accent".
posted by olinerd at 2:01 PM on November 9, 2012

Generic eastern seaboard? Nothing seems particularly remarkable about her accent to me, although she does seem to be consciously over enunciating (perhaps for the benefit of the recording?).
posted by slkinsey at 2:02 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's pretty standard "educated middle-class Northeastern US white non-Hispanic lady". Vi's dad is a university professor at SUNY Stony Brook, and I believe she grew up there.

If she spoke more slowly, and at a slightly lower pitch, she would sound a lot like the women voice artists who do things like the recorded messages for big corporations, time clocks, etc. One of the things that's fun about Vi is that her bubbliness just runs away with her.

Agree that this is a "women's register" variation on a US received pronunciation accent. This is often described as "chirpy" on casting calls for voice artists. The voice artist who does Lisa Simpson (is that Tress McNeille?) sounds similar as well.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:03 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

She actually sounds like she has just a trace of a lisp - which Felicia Day seems to as well, to a lesser degree.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:03 PM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Working backward from the user account name and her biography, her upbringing was presumably on Long Island, New York, probably with some regional or international influence (her father is highly educated and affiliated with SUNY and MIT). I'm sure some Google stalking could bring up more info.
posted by crapmatic at 2:09 PM on November 9, 2012

There aren't a lot of men working in entertainment in the US who do the analogous male accent, but I think Chris Colfer of "Glee" is similar.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:10 PM on November 9, 2012

The voice artist who does Lisa Simpson (is that Tress McNeille?) sounds similar as well.

Lord no, that's Yeardly Smith!

Tress McNeille does Lindsey Nagel and the chick who does the news with Morbo on Futurama.

*note to self. Get a life.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:16 PM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

To me it sounds like a generic American accent combined with a manner of speaking that I'd describe as some combination of "cutesy," "over-caffeinated," "wishes she were Canadian," and "listens to lots of NPR."
posted by DestinationUnknown at 2:33 PM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think her mum is Canadian, actually.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:41 PM on November 9, 2012

Sounds like very slight Canadian (Nova Scotia?) to me. There is certainly an accent though.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:42 PM on November 9, 2012

Yes, there is a bit of lispiness there. Not in a bad way. Just maybe in a teenager-who-hasn't-quite-grown-into-her-tongue kind of way. Or braces. I also hear a funny L a little bit.

Some parts of her cadence and inflection does sound a little like Lisa Simpson, but not exactly.

There is something about her that sounds somehow like second generation Asian-American to me. I just subconsciously pictured an Asian face when I heard her talking.

But yeah, it is pretty much standard Northern American English with a teenager's inflection.

What she doesn't have is the awful vocal fry noise that a lot of Americans use.
posted by gjc at 2:46 PM on November 9, 2012

I agree -- "educated middle-class Northeastern US white non-Hispanic lady," and I say that as a educated middle-class Northeastern US white non-Hispanic lady.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:52 PM on November 9, 2012

I talk a lot like this (but less chirpy) and it's not because I'm trying to sound cute (I suppose maybe I just am cute? "intentionally or otherwise"?). Born and raised in Massachusetts.

People ask me about my accent and I tell them it's a lisp.
posted by 4bulafia at 3:16 PM on November 9, 2012

The way Vihart speaks reminds me of the way that girl in all those commercials sounds.
posted by marimeko at 5:29 PM on November 9, 2012

Another pop-culture reference for this speaking style is Madeleine Martin (Becca on Californication).
posted by rhizome at 6:20 PM on November 9, 2012

Also sounds like Alyson Hannigan as Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:40 PM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes Johnny Wallflower! That was bugging me for a bit who she sounded like, only I know Alyson Hannigan from How I Met Your Mother.

And the way Vihart says "out" definately has a Canadian slant to it.
posted by NoraCharles at 7:23 PM on November 9, 2012

I thought she sounds like Sarah vowell
posted by empath at 10:22 PM on November 9, 2012

Thanks all, I suppose I figured there were many more different accents in the US (the only ones I recognise are "standard" and deep south) given how many regional variations there are in a country as small as the UK. I had also vaguely assumed that this was variation on a southern rather than northeastern accent, largely because she sounds so much like Felicia Day who I believe is from Alabama and grew up in the South. But I really have no clue.

Clearly consensus here is cutesy north-east US sashaying into eastern Canada... but curious if there is anything southern about it given above (or is it just as olinerd said that they both have a cutesy lilt).
posted by inbetweener at 1:55 AM on November 10, 2012

I don't hear anything even remotely southern in it.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:11 AM on November 10, 2012

Neither she nor Day sound at all southern to me - they both have fairly close to broadcast-standard accents. (Although I wouldn't be at all surprised if Day could bust out a drawl if she wanted to.) Regional accents tend to fade in urban areas - I live in Austin, and even the natives here have only a trace of a Texas accent.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:07 AM on November 10, 2012

Many actors in the US adopt this kind of Northeastern white non-Hispanic middle-class diction, because it is considered by many to be a higher-status accent.

Felicia Day may have trained out a native accent. Brad Pitt did; he doesn't sound Missouri. Sandra Bullock did; she doesn't sound Texas.

This is as much a "received pronunciation" accent in the US as the BBC accent is in the UK.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:51 PM on November 10, 2012

There is a "broadcast standard" US accent that is more strongly Midwestern in its vowels---Tom Brokaw is a good example of that.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:57 PM on November 10, 2012

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